Sneek, or Snits as the locals call it, is a pleasant city right in the heart of the Frisian Lakes district, in the Northern Netherlands. It's a bustling centre for water sports, boating and ice skating, but also home to monumental architecture and lovely town views.
With some 33000 inhabitants, Sneek is not a particularly large city. It is well-known in the Netherlands however, as it is one of the eleven cities in the famous Elfstedentocht and also for the Sneekweek, a major water sports event organized here every year.
- Tourist Information Office Sneek (VVV), ☏ . Mo-Fri 10am-4pm, in high season till 5pm. Sat. 11am-2pm. The VVV office provides all kinds of booking services for lodging and boat rents. The helpful staff can give all kinds of information regarding sights in and around the city and even the broader lake district.
Unless you're coming from nearby, the A7 is probably your way in by road. It connects Sneek to Groningen and the German border in the west and (via the Afsluitdijk, a large causeway that separates the Ijsselmeer from the North Sea) to Zaandam and all the major destinations in the Western Netherlands.
The N354 is the major provincial road, connecting Sneek to the nearby destinations of Leeuwarden, Grou and Lemmer. Sneek has a ring road, which makes it easier to navigate from anywhere in the city to either of the main access roads.
There are trains to Leeuwarden every 15 minutes, operated by Arriva (€4.30, 20 minutes). From there, you can transfer on trains to other major destinations. Buses in this region are also operated by Arriva and connect Sneek to most of the towns in the region.
If you have a boat, Sneek is very reachable over water. The Zwette is the waterway connecting Sneek to Leeuwarden, the Franekervaart connects the city to Franeker and the Houkesloot to the larger Prinses Margrietkanaal, a major shipping canal leading from Lemmer to Groningen city. Lastly, the Geeuw is your waterway into Sneek when coming from IJlst.
The inner city is small enough to discover on foot. A bike can be a nice alternative. You can rent one at TWA Tsjillen Rijwielen, Wijde Noorderhorne 8, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're here by car, there are plenty of places to park it, although most of them are paid parking garages and terrains (€2.00/day).
Like several other Dutch cities, the old town of Sneek is characterized by canals, historic houses and bridges, offering plenty of charming town views. The city had its golden age in the 15th and 16th century, when its location on the major trade route from Leeuwarden (the region's capital) to Stavoren (the harbour from where the western Netherlands could be reached) led to flourishing trade and great wealth in Sneek. It was in this period that many of the monumental houses and the city walls were built, as well as a new harbour. A pretty Manierist Waterpoort (Water gate) was built to connect the new harbour with the rest of the city. Today, the Waterpoort with its two towers has become a symbol for the city and is one of the few remaining parts of the town walls, as much of it was demolished in the early 18th century.
Other interesting sights include the 1550 Town hall and the 1498 Martini church (Grote Kerkstraat 5), which has a carillon of some 50 bells.
The Fries Scheepvaart Museum, Kleinzand 16. has some nice exhibitions on the history of Sneek, the shipping history and water sports. It is housed in 6 adjoining historic houses along one of the canals. €6 (including a cup of coffee/tea).
- For locals and visitors alike, Sneek is almost a synonym for water and water sports, and no visit this area is complete without at least some experience on the water. You have a wide choice of ways to join the crowds, but if you're not a water sports aficionado, boating is a good pick. As in all the towns along the Frisian lakes, several places rent out canoes, sloops and sailing boats. For the inexperienced, a canoe or sloop is the best option. You don't need any permits or licenses and navigating is easy enough to be explained on the spot. If you're not on a budget, there are even some larger yacht-like motorboats that you can rent without a boating license. They are often rented out for a week, allowing for more extensive trips around the Frisian lake area and the IJsselmeer. Note that you'll pay a large deposit, and that smaller damages (up to €500 or so) are typically covered by that deposit, not the insurance. If you feel insecure, ask for a short course, as they are generally available. Whatever you do, don't miss out this: you can't say you've seen this region if you haven't seen it from off-shore!
- Jachtcharter Klompmaker, De Zwaan 20, Woudsend. This place is a half hour drive from Sneek, but a good choice to rent fully-equipped yachts. Book well in advance, as last-minute options are rarely available. From €1300 for a 4 person yacht, one week.
- Sailing requires a bit more technique, and if you don't have proper sailing experience, it's not advisable to rent a real sailing boat. You could however book some sailing classes, which are typically great fun and will leave you with some handy skills for another time. Sailing classes come in all kinds: in groups, private, for half a day or for two full weeks. Make sure to make reservations in advance though.
The town centre has many large and small shops, including plenty of souvenir sellers. You'll find anything from keychains to bathing suits with the Frisian flag on it.
For an actual Sneek specialty, look for Drabbelkoek, a local round and crunchy cookie made by pushing the dough through a small funnel. They're often sold in tins with the Waterpoort on it, making for a nice souvenir.
As Sneek attracts rather large watersports crowds in summer, there's a wide selection of restaurants available. Many have nice outdoor terraces, often along the water side.
- Ken's Eatcounter, Kaatsland 56, ☏ . This small Suriname eatery is popular with locals and visitors alike, and a good spot for a cheap lunch or dinner. You can take away too, if you want. Think tasty roti, fried rice and spicy chicken.
- De Walrus, Leeuwenburg 11, ☏ . The most popular restaurant of Sneek Around €30 for a menu.
- Texas Steakhouse, Wijde Noorderhorne 11, ☏ . This place may not look too special from the outside, but if you're craving a steak, this is the place to be. Good portions, well prepared and good quality for money. €25.
- 't Vaticaan, Grootzand 10, ☏ . In terms of decor, this place lives up to its name. Enjoy a good French menu (with some Dutch influences) between statues of saints. It's a cosy restaurant with good quality dishes. Around €30.
The old town is dotted with establishments, and in summer there's a nice vibe with all the outdoor terraces and bars. If you're looking to go clubbing, Club 1841 (Kleine kerkstraat 4b) is where you should go.
- Amicitia Hotel Sneek, Graaf Adolfstraat 37, ☏ . This place gives you a choice between standard rooms and special theme rooms, but all rooms are modern and have all the facilities of a 4-star hotel. It's a bit further from the old town (about 20 minutes' walk), but there's a beauty parlour, free wifi and free parking to make up for that. The hotel has a restaurant and a bar. €76 for a double.
- Van der Valk Hotel Sneek, Burgemeester Rasterhofflaan 1, ☏ . One of the best hotels in the area with lots of facilities, a 5 minute drive from the city centre. It's a fine pick if you have a car or bike, close to both the water and a nice park. If you don't have transport, they do rent out bikes and there's a bus connection. There's a good selection of rooms, including suites and family rooms. There are wellness facilities, a lovely outdoor terrace, free wifi, a good restaurant and a bar. From €95 for a double on park side.
- Post Office point, Sint Antoniusplein 35 (Located in the Albert Heijn supermarket). There's no post office in town, but there are several post office points in supermarkets and bookshops. This one is convenient also because of its long (supermarket-related) opening hours, daily till 10pm.
Nearby destinations of interest include:
- Franeker, with its lovely historic planetarium
- Leeuwarden, the province capital
- Heerenveen, centre for ice skating sports
Via the Afsluitdijk it's a short drive to the northern tip of the Northern Netherlands, making destinations like Den Helder, Alkmaar and Enkhuizen an easy next destination too. If you want to cross the Afsluitdijk by public transport, head to Bolsward and take a bus (Qliner 350) to Alkmaar.
|Routes through Sneek|
|Amsterdam ← Bolsward ←||W E||→ Joure → Groningen|